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Clare, Ireland

Aged 23

Monday, 30th November 1846

The Family Legend of Captain John Devere, hero of the French Cavalry and the true story of John H Devers, bootmaker, musician, deserter from the US Cavalry.

In about 1990, while I was visiting a cousin in England, her daughter told me she had a letter which had been handed down, oldest daughter to oldest daughter for several generations. It was from John H DEVERS, a musician in the US Cavalry, and described his journey in 1870 from London to New York on the SS Bellona and from there to Fort Union in New Mexico. It seems he had left his wife (the letter was addressed to 'Dear wife') and had joined the Temperance Society and the US Cavalry when he arrived in New York. Ten months later he was court martialled and drummed out of the Cavalry for desertion. That is the end of the line except for some possible sightings of a bootmaker of the same name in Colorado Territories. This all happened between April 1870 and March 1871.

The family story was that my grandmother, Catherine BARTLETT (nee De Vere), was so named because she was the daughter of a Captain in the French Cavalry who had been killed at the battle of Sevastopol in the Crimean war. She was said to have a funny accent which was assumed to be French but which was probably Irish! According to her baptism certificate her mother was Mary MAHONEY, lawfully married to John DEVERE.

Obviously there is only one minor difference between the name De Vere and Devers and in that "e/s" is a world of fancy. The family story of the Captain of French Cavalry is much more romantic than the runaway musician deserter from the US Cavalry story but it cannot be substantiated by the records. There are several possible candidates for Catherine Devers and her mother but none for Catherine De Vere. She seems to have avoided National Registration when she was born and the 1871, 1881 and 1891 census' but officially appeared one week after the 1891 when she married my grandfather.

I have exhausted all the leads (BMDs, census' etc) that I can find and my most promising link is Catherine (not Mary) MAHONEY who gave birth to a bastard daughter Catherine in Rotherhithe Workhouse, London, in September 1870. No father's name was recorded. However, I have a copy of the baptism certificate of my grandmother Catherine Devere which claims that her father John Devere was lawfully married to Mary Mahoney. I also have the transcript of his [John H DEVERS] court martial including a letter given in evidence from his father Edward in Benton Harbor, Michigan dated 1871.

My web site:
offers more detail and I have exhaustive records of my research.

I would really appreciate some expert help as I seem to have reached a brick wall.

John Bartlett BC Canada

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